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'Very unusual' Seattle airport experience forces long line of travelers into parking garage

Twenty-seven of the 29 security lanes were open during the peak period, which was 8:15 a.m. to 12 p.m.

SEATAC, Wash. — Security screening lines stretched all the way into the parking garage at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Sunday morning. Many travelers say they missed their flights due to the long wait times.

The airport's media relations manager, Perry Cooper, called the situation "very unusual."

"It was a high volume day of passengers, which was one of our largest since the pandemic. In addition, we saw a large volume of cruise buses dropping off passengers from the end of the season ship and arrivals. Several factors could be involved in the situation," said Cooper. 

Cooper said the longest wait time the Port of Seattle recorded was 90 minutes. However, TSA claims wait times did not pass 60 minutes. Travelers say they waited more than two hours. 

"We got here about 9:50 a.m. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 12:30 p.m. and by the time we got through TSA it was 12:55 p.m.," said traveler Matt Macoleni. 

"At 9:20 a.m. we were still in that line, at 9:40 a.m. we were in that line. We were there all the way up until 10:40 a.m. I remember checking my watch, our flight was already gone and we were in the line," said traveler Ken Collins.  

TSA confirmed there were no staffing shortages Sunday and some staff worked mandatory overtime. Twenty-seven of the 29 security lanes were open during the peak period, which was 8:15 am. to noon.

Roughly 4,000 cruise ship passengers were dropped off every hour, according to TSA. 

TSA expects Monday to be another busy day at SEA Airport with a similar number of travelers. Sunday saw roughly 60,000 travelers, and at least 56,000 travelers are expected Monday.

The Port encourages travelers to use the SEA Spot Saver, which allows travelers to save a spot in the security line. 

Cooper said the Port will work with TSA to determine the next steps forward.


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